Parksville business owner pleads with city to allow him to fill a ditch on his property

And other Parksville city council news, including a call from the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve for people to nominate 'amazing places'

Al Descoteau has been trying to get the city to fill in an “ugly” ditch on his property for years. The ditch is on land he owns where his business is located, but the city has an easement.

Descoterau has offered to pay for the work himself, a bill he said will come to about $6,500.

He was rebuffed once again by city hall on Monday night.

Descoteau told city council he once had a commitment from the city to fill in the ditch — he said there was even a date set. But it didn’t happen.

About 10 years ago he tried again, but said he was told by city staff that engineering drawings would have to be done and the bill would come to $25,000.

“This is not rocket science . . . it’s a simple thing,” Descoteau told council on Monday night. “I’m simply asking to fix up a piece of ugliness.”

Descoteau also said in the 30 years he’s owned the land where Terminal Auto Body is located, there has never been a problem with flooding, even after torrential downpours like the one the city experienced in September of 2013.

The city’s director of engineering disagreed with Descoteau over the simplicity of the task.

“The city needs to do it to our standards,” said Vaughn Figueira. “It’s not just a fill operation.”

In the end, council asked staff to bring a report about the work and its potential costs to a future meeting.

In other news from Monday night’s meeting:

• Executive director Blain Sepos and vice-chair Arthur Wong of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association (PQBTA) asked council to consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop a mid- to long-term destination development plan for the region.

The PQBTA would like to see all the municipalities and business organizations be signatories to the MOU.

“We see this as a first step to creating a regional development plan,” said Sepos.

Council asked staff to prepare a report about how signing the MOU would affect city operations and finances.

• The public is invited to nominate what they believe are “amazing places” in this area, through the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR).

Vancouver Island University’s Monica Shore, the MABR’s co-ordinator, and former mayor Chris Burger, city council’s liaison to the MABR, provided council with an update of MABR’s activities in the past six months and out the call out for nominations.

To qualify as an amazing place, Shore explained, the location you select must follow these three criteria: you think it’s amazing, it’s publicly accessible and it has ecological significance.

The amazing place must also fall within the MABR’s borders, roughly from Nanoose Bay to Qualicum Bay and from the top of Mount Arrowsmith into the Salish Sea. To nominate an amazing place, go to www.mabr.ca. The nomination period ends Sept. 30.

• Council voted to officially receive the KPMG report on the finances and operations of the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. For a story about the report, see www.pwbnews.com.

• City council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.